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Chain Gang
Series 06, Episode 04
Chain Gang
Air Date January 22, 1989
Written by John Sullivan
Director Tony Dow
Length 50 minutes
Previous episode "Danger UXD"
Next episode "The Unlucky Winner Is..."
List of episode

Del and friends buy a set of 18 carat gold chains from a retired jeweller.

Synopsis

During a night at the One-Eleven Club, Rodney introduces Cassandra to Del Boy. They also meet Arnie, a retired jeweller from Lambeth, who interests the Trotter Brothers in 250 18 carat gold chains, which were supposed to be sold to a gangster named Mr. Maxi Stavros. However, Stavros has not made contact with Arnie for a considerable length of time, and Arnie is being forced to sell them at half their wholesale cost. Del forms a consortium of himself, Rodney, Uncle Albert, Boycie, Trigger, and Mike who, after verification by an independent jeweller, purchase the chains for £12,500. However, literally seconds after the deal has gone through, Arnie calls his wife, Patricia, who informs him that Stavros has made contact and is ready to purchase the chains. Arnie is distraught as he has shaken on the deal, and explains that as far as Stavros is concerned, that means the chains are his, and he is not the type of man anybody would want to let down. The consortium argue amongst themselves for a while until Del calms the situation down with an idea. Arnie will sell the chains to Stavros on the consortium's behalf, for which he will be paid £2,000, meaning the consortium makes £10,500 for doing, in Mike's words, "Sod All!"

At an Italian restaurant, Arnie, with the briefcase containing the chains handcuffed to his wrist, sits down and waits for Mr. Stavros. Del and Boycie keep an eye on him from another table, while Rodney and Albert wait outside in the Trotter Van, backed up by Mike and Trigger who are in Mike's car, observing the deal a short distance from the restaurant. Suddenly, Arnie starts to have a heart attack, and collapses on the floor. A sagacious Boycie realises if the chains and cash accompany Arnie to a NHS hospital, the consortium risk having them stolen and "half the kitchen staff will be off to Miami". So, impersonating a doctor, Boycie discreetly tries to get the case which is locked to Arnie's wrist, but receives a punch on the nose from a big Greek man. The manager of the restaurant is about to call the police, but Del is able to save Boycie by pretending to be a police officer. An ambulance oddly arrives immediately, and Arnie is taken to hospital. The group realises they must follow the ambulance so they know which hospital to visit, but Mike's car has been clamped. Rodney and Albert drive off after the ambulance in the van, leaving the others stranded.

Back at Nelson Mandela House, Rodney and Albert return home to say that they lost the ambulance at St. Steven's Hospital at the Fulham Road. Although Del and Boycie originally berate them for having lost it, Rodney replies that there was no way they could have followed the ambulance to its final location - in an emergency, ambulances are allowed to go through red traffic lights. Del suggests that the group phone every hospital in London to find Arnie. Mike informs him hospitals don't give personal information over the phone. It's agreed they will, in person, visit all hospitals in London. It's then they receive a call from an Indian doctor at Arnie's ward, who tells them Arnie has died. Del promises to call Arnie's wife and arrange the funeral - but the doctor refuses to give Del the address to Arnie's house, and hangs up. Del wanted Arnie's address as Arnie's widow had taken his possessions (which includes the 250 gold chains). Wondering what else to do, Rodney suggests that he'll go to Lambeth and look for Arnie's name on its electoral list, but neither he, Del, nor any of the others know Arnie's surname (plus, as Trigger points out, Arnie had only just moved from Lambeth and would not yet be on Peckham's electoral list). Mike then suggests the One Eleven Club - the venue where Del and Arnie first met - where they can find Arnie's address on his membership form. Del remembers Arnie wasn't a member so his address won't be registered. But Albert has an idea: seeing as Arnie last used it to ring his wife, they could use the redial button on the Trotters' phone, and then discuss the funeral arrangements with his wife. Del gives it a try, but comes up short because Rodney phoned the Highcliffe Hotel, Guernsey (to contact Cassandra, who was on a training course), after Arnie had phoned Pat. Now resigned to losing the gold chains for good, Mike, Boycie, and Trigger despondently leave the flat.

A few days later, while picking up Cassandra from the airport, Rodney spots Arnie - this time in West London - being carried into the same ambulance, by the same paramedics. At The Nag's Head, Del, Rodney, Albert, Mike, Boycie, and Trigger all realise the awful truth: Arnie is a con-artist who tricks prospective buyers into giving him their money, then fakes a heart-attack before the fabricated deal can go through. The group then reason that Arnie would have no trouble in acquiring an old ambulance driven by his two sons, Gary and Steven, which would be the perfect getaway vehicle for such deals; not only can it clear traffic through use of its siren, but it can also legally go through red lights. Del also notes that he had previously spoken to the manager of the Italian restaurant, who had noted that shortly after Arnie's ambulance had left, the real ambulance arrived. Del and Rodney also explain to Trigger that "Mr. Stavros" was just a ruse and never existed. They then hear that Denzil and his brothers are about to become the latest victims of Arnie's scam, but Denzil leaves The Nag's Head before Del and Rodney can warn him about Arnie, or so it seems.

The next day, at an Indian restaurant in Stepney, Denzil and his brother Carl are keeping an eye on Arnie from a nearby table. Meanwhile, Gary and Steven (who are both revealed to take turns in doing the voice of the "Indian doctor") are standing by in their ambulance, waiting for their father to pull off his "dying swan" act. Arnie does so, but when he gets loaded into the ambulance, Arnie finds himself surrounded by Del, Rodney, Albert, Mike, Boycie, and Trigger, all disguised as paramedics - in a clever double-cross, Del and his friends have bought their own ambulance with which to capture Arnie. Once Arnie's sons arrive at the restaurant, they are apprehended by Denzil and his brothers. A frightened Arnie tries to reason with his former customers, as Albert passes Del a large pair of bolt cutters. Arnie says there is no need to cut the chain, because he has the key. Del then remarks, "Who said anything about cutting the chain?", and as a terrified Arnie begins to wheeze in terror, Del laughs and says to Arnie should be careful as he'll give himself a heart attack. Del then smiles, and violently snaps the cutters together, and the credits begin to roll.

Featured characters

Other notes

Continuity errors

  • While being introduced to her by Rodney at the One-Eleven Club, Del tells Cassandra that he remembers her father, Alan, by saying "Little fella, one blue eye, one brown, talks with a squint, walks with a stutter." Cassandra replies "That's him!" However, when Alan is first seen in "Little Problems", that is clearly not the case.
  • Boycie puts up seven grand in the flat, yet outside the Italian restaurant after he's been punched, this has grown to "seven and a half grand in unlaundered money" according to Del.

Production goofs

  • In the One-Eleven Club, Arnie hands Del his mineral water and walks off. Del chinks the glasses together and drinks from Arnie's - mistaking it to be his own.

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